Comeback Effort Falls Short For Walker Valley

Coates Scores 32 In Sectional Loss To LaVergne

  • Monday, March 4, 2024
  • Richard Roberts

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The basketball season ended a few games before Walker Valley hoped it would. But, the season came to a close for the Mustangs much later than many thought it would.

Walker Valley (23-10) battled to the final buzzer against LaVerne (23-9), but in the end fell five points short of a state tournament berth after falling 66-61 to the Wolverines.

“Those guys don't like to lose. We've been like that all season. We just don't quit. Even at the region championship game against Bradley we were down five in the last minute,” said a subdued Mustangs head coach Will Campbell. “But, You've got to give a lot of credit to LaVerne. When they needed it they hit free throws. They made shots at the end, at least enough. And they made plays early, obviously, that put us in a bad spot. We couldn't hit anything, we really struggled.”

Even a powerful 32 point effort from senior Cash Coates wouldn't be enough to push the Mustangs over the top. Coates, playing his final game inside “The Stable” caught fire and burned white hot in the fourth quarter as he saddled the Mustangs on his back and single-handedly reduced an 11 point deficit to five with a four minute run that produced 19 points.

“He's a warrior, that guy,” praised Campbell. “… he just puts his head down and plays in those situations and he's pretty dang good at it and he was tonight. He just didn't want to lose that game. It's not like we were calling anything for him he was just going. He was getting to the free-throw line, getting And 1s. Even a couple where he got himself in trouble he found a way to get fouled. We're going to miss him next year, being able to have somebody night-in-night out if he's not our leading scorer he's usually around it. He's going to be hard to replace for sure.”

Graham Campbell helped the Mustangs hang on with a 2-pointer that made it 63-58. Walker Valley was able to pull within three points at 64-61 on three Caleb Sausville free throws with 21 seconds left. But, a key LaVerne free throw and a missed 3-point try by the Mustangs closed the curtain on the Walker Valley season.

“I told the guys 84 4A teams will end their season just like we did, sitting in the locker room talking about what could have been. There is only going to be one team that ends on a win,” Campbell said. “Winning's hard. Sometimes you forget that. Winning never gets easy. It doesn't matter who you're playing, winning is hard. You've got to show up and play and the other team in trying to win just as hard as you're trying to win.”

The Mustangs had a less than usual performance from behind the 3-point arc against the Wolverines. The Herd jut just 6 of 25 from distance with Sausville, Coates and Landon Shirk all hitttig two each. Walker Valley finished just over 51% from 2-point land at 16 of 31. They were 8 of 12 from the free-throw line while LaVergne was 17 of 28.

The Mustangs trailed 12-10 after the first quarter, 28-19 at halftime and 42-31 after three quarters. The Herd outscored LaVergne 30-24 in the fourth.

“I told the guys not to walk out of here with your heads down. You've got memories that will last you a lifetime from the gams you won, the battles we fought together. You ended your season with a loss earlier than you wanted to, but it doesn't take away any of the success we had this year and the chemistry we found throughout the season,” Campbell espoused. “We've got some young guys, that was their first taste of a sectional game. They've never seen one of those before. I expect those guys to come back hungry for that feeling again. Who knows? We've got some talent left in this locker room. We have a chance to maybe be back here again next year if things go our way. There won't be too many days before we go back to work and try to figure it out again.”














LAVERGNE (66) — Xialin Lenoir 29, Landon Bryant 16, Daunte WHITE 11, Samuel 4, Sherman 4, Amill 2, Lawson, Jones.

WALKER VALLEY (61) — Cash Coates 32, Davis 8, G. Campbell 2, Taylor 2, Sausville 9, Shirk 6, Clayton, T. Campbell.

3-point goals: LaVergne 3 (Bryant 2, Lenoir); Walker Valley 6 (Sausville 2, Coates 2, Shirk 2).

Free-throws: LaVervne 17-28; Walker Valley 8 of 12.

Records: LaVergne 23-9; Waker Valley 23-10.

(Email Richard Roberts at


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